Villanova Engineers Igniting Change
A 2012 Civil Engineering graduate, Colleen Zagar began her engineering career with Turner Construction in New York City, relocated to San Diego to work as an engineer on the Navy General Administration Facility, and was named a 2021 Woman of Influence in Engineering by the San Diego Business Journal.
Like many 18-year-olds, Los Angeles native Mark Griego ’23 CpE recalls how he lacked motivation and direction as a new college student. After a stint in the Marine Corps and earning an associate’s degree at community college, Mark is now demonstrating impressive leadership skills as an undergraduate Computer Engineering major and mentor to other veterans at Villanova.
As an intern for AbbVie Inc., a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company, Alessandro received the AbbVie Excellence Award for his dedication to the work and having made a real impact. After a summer experience he describes as “unbelievable,” Alessandro looks forward to starting in the company’s Operations Development Program after graduation.
At Villanova, Brianna Conte was a Presidential Scholar, undergraduate biomedical engineering researcher, tutor and volunteer. Today she attends medical school at the University of Miami.
Each November, Villanova University participates in the national celebration week of first generation students. This event, which coincides with the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, celebrates the contributions and achievements of first generation students at our nations’ universities. The College of Engineering has more than 100 first generation students and dozens of faculty and staff who are first gens as well. A few of them shared with us what it means to them and their families to be the first to attend/graduate from college.
At Villanova, Lee was a Presidential Scholar, undergraduate researcher, tutor and international service volunteer. Now, as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar he’s off to Stanford University where he aspires to develop novel materials that fuel the next generation of global energy processes.
An assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 2017, Dr. Jonathan Hubler is eager to apply his knowledge of earthquake engineering wherever and whenever he can be of service.
Through teaching and research opportunities, Dr. Charles Coe, associate research professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, enables students to become change makers in sustainable engineering.
An expert in enhanced oil recovery, Dr. Jackson’s teaching reflects his industry experience—projects and problems that he faced personally—which provides students with a window into the real world.
In his courses, Dr. Peter Staffeld, assistant professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, draws a direct connection between theory and practice by helping students to see the relationships between what they are learning and what they will be doing as chemical engineers.
Villanova’s Augustinian values prompted James Osborn to look for investment opportunities with strong governance that support the environment and society. He says, “It’s a longer-term investment strategy. It’s triple bottom line —people, planet, profits—and they are not mutually exclusive.”
A new faculty member in Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Koller is using sensory data and robotics to innovate assistive prosthesis.
Dr. Scally’s efforts in building Colorado Engineering, Inc. and his widespread expertise earned him the 2019 Carl T. Humphrey Award for his leadership and technical efforts.
Dr. Amy Fleischer’s work toward women’s leadership and equality in engineering earned her the Engineering Alumni Society’s Gary A. Gabriele Award.
Bernard has established himself as a leader among wireless operators and services providers: the unsung heroes of your cell phone’s internet connection and communication abilities.
Maria Sauer’s philanthropic efforts and commitment to Villanova University students serve as a shining example of our Augustinian values of Caritas and Unitas.
Tyler is Manager of Engineering at SEPTA and represents his Augustinian value of Unitas by connecting Villanova University College of Engineering students with SEPTA for real-world job opportunities.
For the University’s monthly sustainability newsletter, three first-year Villanova students spoke with Dr. Justinus Satrio, associate professor of Chemical Engineering, regarding his personal experiences, thoughts and suggestions regarding sustainability.
In 2018, Katie Rose was presented with the Outstanding Collegiate Member Award from the Society of Women Engineers. The honor is bestowed upon SWE collegiate members—only 10 in the nation—who have made an outstanding contribution to SWE, the engineering community and their campus.
When O’Brien & Gere decided to sponsor the Chemical Engineering Department’s new Senior Project Studio, they invited their summer intern Erin Feryo to be part of a team investigating the root cause of per- and poly-fluorinated contaminants and researching current remediation treatment methods.
Recently named one of ENR’s Top Young Professionals, Andrew Packer is a project manager with Gilbane Building Co. based out of the Philadelphia office. He has worked on award-winning projects with the company since graduating from Villanova in 2010, and is an active volunteer firefighter and EMT.
Dr. Joseph Wartman is director of the Natural Hazards Reconnaissance Facility (RAPID), which supports the collection of perishable field data in the aftermath of major disasters worldwide. Today he is examining the natural hazard risks posed to refugees in conflict zones and to other populations facing humanitarian crises.
A senior Chemical Engineering major, Alex Patrick ranks 10th on the all-time Villanova performance list in the long jump. After graduation, she’ll be a manufacturing improvement engineer for DuPont’s electronics and imaging division.
After earning his master’s and PhD at Villanova, Christopher Mansour '14 MSCpE, ’18 PhD, moved to Erie, PA, where he’s fulfilling his academic aspirations as a professor, educating the next generation of cybersecurity experts.
Andrew Blasetti ’04 CE, ’06 MSCE is an associate at structural engineering consulting firm Thornton Tomasetti, where he led Philadelphia’s Comcast Innovation & Technology Center project. A specialist in high rises, this spring he will teach a graduate course in Tall Building Design for Villanova’s Civil Engineering department.
As the CEO and co-founder of ActiveProtective, Lakatos has developed a wearable airbag system in the form of a belt that can accurately detect the incidence of a serious hip-impacting fall, deploy airbags over the hip regions and send an alert to caregivers.
A Pioneer in AWD for Motorcycles and Mountain Bikes: Villanova Engineering Alumnus Steve Christini ’95 ME
Villanova Engineering alumnus Steve Christini ’95 ME is the President and CEO of Christini Technologies, Inc., which manufactures a range of All-Wheel Drive bicycles and motorcycles. Christini’s dream began as an undergraduate at Villanova when, for his senior capstone design project, he created a two-wheel-drive system for a bicycle. Fast forward more than two decades later and Christini’s bikes have competed in ESPN’s X-Games and are even used by the military.
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Seri Park, PhD, PTP, has teamed with a research scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to investigate young pedestrians’ behaviors. The goal is to help public agencies and vehicle manufacturers make informed decisions on appropriate safety prevention devices and measures.
The winner of a Fulbright research grant, Electrical Engineering graduate Gabriel Lopez ’18 is pursuing a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Solar Energy. His goal—borne out of classroom learning, a research opportunity and international service—is a career in renewable energy focused on implementing sustainable infrastructure in Central and South America.
Recognizing that he was in a position to address the problem, Jim Mynaugh ’80 ChE formed Divine Water, a non-profit with a goal to provide clean, safe drinking water to those without. To date, his organization has funded water projects in Haiti, Uganda and Costa Rica.
In the middle of a successful career, JoAnn Garbin ’98 ME took a break to shift her focus from how to be successful, back to how to be of service. The result has been new insight into leadership.
Less than a decade after graduating from Villanova with a degree in civil engineering, Gaitan has left an indelible impression on his hometown of Camden, NJ, resulting in media attention and a new children’s book based on his life.
“Increasing access to STEM education for underrepresented students” is Stephanie’s long term goal—and she used her four years at Villanova to position herself for success. In addition to her double major in Electrical and Computer Engineering and minor in Computer Science, she served the University’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers in multiple leadership roles and tutored fellow students within the College and through Villanova’s Center for Access, Success, and Achievement.
We interviewed members of the Campus Sustainability Plan Student Working Group—Matt Ashcroft, Ellen Mook, Anna Chan, Joey Camilleri—to learn how sustainability touches them personally and professionally.
Medical Change Maker: Brian C. Glaister ’03 ME, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Cadence Biomedical
Brian Glaister ’03 ME has found an opportunity to change lives, which has been his life’s goal since being inspired by a service trip to South Africa as a Villanova undergraduate. He is the co-founder of Cadence Biomedical, a Seattle-based medical device startup that manufactures and distributes Kickstart, technology that provides stability, control and assistance to help victims of stroke, injury and neurological conditions regain their ability to walk.
Committed to Superior Solutions: Annina Hogan ’13 MSChE, PE, RA, LEED AP, Partner, Remington & Vernick Engineers
Growing up the youngest of nine children to a single mom taught Annina Hogan a strong work ethic. Today she applies that drive to her role as the first female partner of her firm, Remington & Vernick Engineers.
His Augustinian education led Jordan Ermilio to find a life of purpose in the Peace Corps after graduation from Villanova in 1998. Today he applies his passion for serving others to the Villanova Engineering Service Learning program.
Brendan Gorman ’19 ChE is working with Dr. Zuyi “Jacky” Huang to scale up the use of microbial fuel cells, particularly sediment microbial fuel cells, to power a sensor and remove pollutants from stormwater in the campus wetlands.
In a lecture to the Villanova community, alumnus Brian T. Smith ’93 EE, presented “The International Space Station: Engineering the Unknown,” in which he shared how the NASA community uses creative engineering, reverse engineering and real-time engineering to solve problems in the absence of key information.
Working with Dr. Ahmad Hoorfar, director of Villanova’s Antenna Research Laboratory, Chris Israel ’19 EE conducted research on 3-D space-filling curve antennas, which have the potential to significantly reduce the size of low frequency antennas.
It’s been nearly two decades since Moeness Amin, PhD, director of Villanova’s Center for Advanced Communications, began conducting research on sensing through walls using radar. Today he’s using it to detect falls and monitor the elderly in their individual living spaces.
Civil Engineering major Bridget Gile ’19 demonstrates an impressive level of engagement at Villanova, including research and a minor in Sustainability Studies, all while maintaining a 4.00 GPA.
Motivated by a history of diabetes in her family, Vanessa Kungne '17 MSChE of Cameroon, Africa, was 17 when she launched her own business—Afya Tea, which utilizes the medicinal properties of the moringa oleifera tree. Countless awards and achievements have followed.
Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia tapped C. “Nat” Nataraj, PhD, professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Villanova Center for Analytics of Dynamic Systems, to help physicians examine biometrics to better diagnose periventricular leukomalacia. PVL is a potentially deadly brain injury that can cause serious speech, cognition and motor skills problems, as well as cerebral palsy or epilepsy later in life.
The founder of Primavera Software, Richard K. Faris, ’69 CE, ’70 MSCE is a highly engaged volunteer and mentor for Villanova Engineering students. He and his wife Marilyn, have made a $5 million commitment to the University in support of Engineering facilities. In recognition of their support, the College of Engineering has named the Richard K. Faris ’69 CE, ’70 MSCE Structural Engineering Teaching and Research Laboratory.
For their senior capstone project, Electrical and Computer Engineering students Nathan Cheong, Stephanie Jones, Scott Miller and Daniel Tagliaferro worked with their faculty advisor to design a system that measures players’ brain waves to assess their levels of focus while playing Mario Kart, Nintendo’s iconic go-kart style racing video game. The better their focus, the fast the kart!
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Garrett Clayton, PhD, is spending four months in Cambodia as a Fulbright Scholar. There, he'll bring his expertise to the robotics community and continue researching robotic solutions for minefield area reduction.
Michael Fortier ’12 is the Environmental Program Manager at Apple where he manages sustainability initiatives for some of the company’s consumer electronics products.
Civil Engineering alumna Susan Castellan has managed various types of projects during her more than three decades in the construction industry, from mixed-use developments and universities, to embassies and theaters. As vice president at Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Castellan works with designers to make sure a building owner’s vision is maintained while meeting specific needs.
Noelle Comolli, PhD, department chair and associate professor of Chemical Engineering, introduces new ChE majors to their field through the fun and relatable process of making chocolate.
Bill Lorenz ’68 ChE always had a strong interest in caring for the environment, but he considers his participation in the country’s first Earth Day to be one of the turning points that sparked his passion to pursue environmental work. That spark ultimately led to his establishing Villanova’s Sustainable Engineering program.
Mark Jupina, PhD, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is leading a new collaborative effort involving faculty and students in the Colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts and Sciences that will provide players on the Villanova baseball team the opportunity to take virtual batting practice.
In the past year, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Kristin Sample-Lord, PhD, PE, was awarded seed grants from the National Science Foundation for research she’s collaborating on with other universities; two of her journal publications received special recognition; and she and a colleague were awarded $245,000 from the PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program.
An internship and project experience with Boeing has led Sustainable Engineering graduate student Alicia Piscitelli to consider a career in the aerospace industry. First, though, she’ll complete her PhD at Villanova, focusing her research on recyclable composite materials.
Anne K. Roby, PhD, '86 ChE is senior vice president of Linde plc, where she has held a variety of leadership positions in more than 25 years with the company. She also holds four patents for industrial gas applications. Anne serves on Villanova University’s Board of Trustees and the College of Engineering Advisory Board.
In 2010, April Barkasi launched Cedarville Engineering Group, LLC, an engineering technology company in Pottstown, Pa., that specializes in civil engineering, municipal and environmental services, government contracting, software development and 3-D reality modeling. Growth has been sure and steady and her work has been publicly recognized.
In the past two years, Dr. Jacob Elmer, assistant professor of Chemical Engineering, received more than $1M in federal research grants. His work includes streamlining the production of genetically engineered T cells to treat leukemia patients, studying earthworm hemoglobin as a potential blood substitute, and manipulating the innate immune response to improve gene therapy.
After an illustrious career that included establishing his own design firm, which built the award-winning Skycam among hundreds of other projects, alumnus Ed Dougherty brought his considerable talents and experience to Villanova where he leads the Engineering Entrepreneurship program and teaches in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department.
Graduate student Mark Orebiyi has been involved in everything from public relations for the African Caribbean Villanova group to serving as historian for the College’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Where he probably has made his greatest impact, however, is in STEM outreach through local and international College programs and the National Society of Black Engineers.
“I enjoy challenging myself and have always loved working in the white space to solve a problem,” says White. "I knew that a degree in engineering would allow me to exercise my passion for problem-solving.” A minor in business, and later an MBA, complemented her technical skillset and positioned her on a path toward a career that combined the two.
Louisa Nara ’89 MSWREE is the Global Technical Director for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Center for Chemical Process Safety. She first learned the importance of process safety when a fire at a chemical plant near her home forced an evacuation of her neighborhood when she was 9-years-old.
A freshman year cybersecurity project inspired Lauren Henderson ’19 CpE to develop a two-factor fingerprinting device to guard against security breaches. She spent three years on the independent project, which she now hopes to patent.
It’s not every day you meet an engineering student who’s also president of the University’s student body, as well as a “socially-aware” photographer. Senior Chemical Engineering major Anthony Busa is all of those things and more.